Research laboratories Communication and Cognition
This page provides information about the research facilities of the Department Communication and Cognition (DCC). Here you will find information about rooms and equipment of two research laboraties, supported research techniques, and guidelines for hardware and software usage.
The laboratory was established in 2002 and is used by the school at large, but mainly by the Department of Communication and Cognition (DCC). It is located in the Dante building in rooms D413 and D414. The facilities are available during university working hours / opening hours of the building. Please contact email@example.com to make a reservation for either a room or a sound proof booth (see the reservation system for the schedule).
Research systems in soundbooths and instructions on the new lab
The laboratory equipment is suitable for a range of individual and group experiments on topics such as language comprehension and production, usability, learning, online collaboration, audio-visual prosody, gestures, and user interface design.
The laboratory rooms are equiped with new computers, a stationary usability lab, a portable usability lab (both from Noldus), two stationary and one portable eyetracker (SMI RED250) and two eye catcher systems (Ex'ovision). Furthermore, the rooms accommodate five sound-proof booths (Esmono Sound). Finally, the computers are running software packages like E-Prime (pstnet), The Observer (Noldus), and Camtasia Studio (TechSmith).
The laboratory has a small computer network, connected to the campus IT infrastructure. The software that is installed on the computers in the lab includes: Camtasia, Praat, Audacity, Proxy+, Fixation, The Observer, BeGaze, E-Prime, wwstim and more.
The keys to the lab rooms can be obtained at the secretary's office (room D422). Please do not leave the rooms unattended and always lock the rooms when leaving. When finished, please switch off the computers and monitors, open the window shutters, put the chairs back in their original position, and turn off the lights.
When a participant is in session, please shut the door and turn on the red light in the corridor. Otherwise, please leave the door ajar as a sign for others that it is safe to enter the room.
Lab users are responsible for their own data. They are well-advised to make frequent copies of acquired data on their own backup media, such as memory sticks, cd's, or dvd's.
Hardware needs to remain in its original place. Staff and students are not allowed to (re)move equipment, disconnect cables, or install new hardware without explicit permission of the laboratory management. The following equipment may be used outside of the lab:
- Portable Usability Lab
- Portable eyetracker
- Digital camera (with tripod)
It is not allowed to (un)install software on any lab computer without explicit consent of the laboratory management. The software installed includes:
- Camtasia : User Guide ::: Tutorials ::: Download ::: Sample Project Files
- E-Prime 2 : GettingStartedGuide ::: User Guide ::: New Features and Reference Guide
- E-Prime 3: GettingStartedGuide
- Experiment Center : Manual
- BeGaze : Manual
- iViewX : Manual
- The Observer XT 9.0 : Quick Start Guide
- The Observer XT 9.0 : Reference Manual
- The Observer XT 9.0 : Description of sample projects
- In order to make a reservation, please send an e-mail with your request to firstname.lastname@example.org specifying the date, time and purpose of your experiment.
- To check the availability of the laboratory, please see https://dcilab.uvt.nl/fris/
- To use the faculty participants pool, send an email to email@example.com
Tilburg University, Dante Building (4th floor)
Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
or PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands
Phone: 31 013-466 3584
Fax: 31 013-466 2892
DCC-lab user testimonials
Eva van den Bemd
I ran language learning experiments (abstract and slides) in the lab, using E-Prime. Participants watch animations on the screen while listening to sentences (in an artifical language) describing what is happening in the animations. I investigate whether the participants are able to learn language in this setting, and how different factors influence the learnability of the artificial language. The soundproof booths are very convenient for this type of study in which the participants have to be focused on the task. Moreover, I have used the eye tracking equipment in the booths to collect eye movement patterns of the participants, which offers an interesting new type of data.
Lieke van Maastricht
I mainly use the lab for the collection of speech data. I use the soundproof cubicles to elicit and record speech for my research on intonation production by native speakers and second languages learners.* Recently, I ran a perception experiment in the lab, using E-prime. I have also been there for data analysis, since SPSS and Praat run much faster on the iMac and the large screen facilitates precise speech data analysis (for instance when you use Praat to inspect pitch tracks).
* Van Maastricht, L., Krahmer, E. & M. Swerts. 'Acquiring native-like intonation in Dutch and Spanish: comparing the L1 and L2 of native speakers and second language learners', at Phonetics, phonology and languages in contact 13, Paris, France, 21- 23 August 2013.
I employ a number of recording devices from the lab, varying from simple digital cameras to the more advanced Eye-Catcher. I use the Eye-Catcher to achieve high quality recordings of participants' frontal faces, to capture their emotional responses during experiments. With the cameras, I created the multimodal TiGeR Cub database, which focuses on human participants interacting with each other. This database contains video fragments (recorded with a HD camera) and depth information (recorded with a Kinect) of the same situations of people engaged in social interactions, which makes it valuable for both cognitive scientists and artificial intelligence researchers.
My research is concerned with nonverbal behaviour; I mostly use the lab to conduct elicitation tasks and perception tests.* In the past, I have used the webcams, which made it easy to record participants in elicitation tasks. I have chosen to conduct perception tests in the lab, as it allowed me to collect data from multiple participants in parallel. Also, the individual cubicles are ideal for ensuring that participants are not distracted from their task.
* An example of one of the language production experiments: Mui, H.C., Goudbeek, M.B., Swerts, M.G.J., & Wijst, P.J. van der (2013). 'Culture and nonverbal cues: How does power distance influence facial expressions in game contexts?' In S. Ouni, F. Berthomier, & A. Jesse (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th international conference on auditory-visual speech processing (pp. 21-26). Annecy, France: Inria.
Karin van Nispen
My research focuses on the use of gestures in communication. For collecting my data, I use the cameras from the lab. For annotating the data I use Elan. In one of my experiments I had participants evaluate video fragments of healthy and aphasic people trying to communicate just using gestures and no speech. The sound proof sound proof booths are very well suited for such tasks as they limit distraction.
For my master thesis, I have conducted research into primacy effects in questionnaires. Primacy effects occur when respondents are disproportionally more likely to choose an earlier presented answer from a given list of response options. In addition to testing if the primacy effects occur in web questionnaires, I also studied how such effects come into existence. For this study I conducted an experiment with the SMI RED 250 eye-tracker. The SMI RED 250 eye-tracker in the research laboratory is perfect for this kind of experiment, as it allows for measuring eye movements in a relatively unobtrusive manner. The eye movement data is recorded using the software BeGaze. Although this program has built-in functions to show the fixations, I used Fixation to analyze the eye movements. Fixation gives more exact information on the position of the fixations on the screen, the time of the fixation and in which order the fixations are made. Without the facilities of the research lab and the support of the people behind the lab, I would not have been able to conduct this technical challenging experiment.
During my PhD research, I conducted several language production experiments.* Most of these were conducted either in the lab or using lab facilities. For a number of experiments I used the E-Prime 2.0 software program to present stimuli, and the response boxes in combination with a microphone to make recordings of participants’ responses. Some of these experiments were run in one of the soundproof booths, but for others it was necessary that participants were tested in a face-to-face dialogue situation, for which these booths are not suited. Using Eye-Catchers partly solved this problem, but I mostly resorted to using a larger room, having participants work on one of the lab’s laptops. For one study that had to be done ‘in the field’, I used the WW-Stim script, which is a tool for creating experiments that can be run anywhere via the lab’s web server.
* Vogels, J., Krahmer, E.J. & Maes, A. (2013). Who is where referred to how, and why?: The influence of visual saliency on referent accessibility in spoken language production. Language and cognitive processes, 28(9), 1323-1349.
For my Master's Thesis I am investigating whether emotions influence speech production. The lab is the ideal place to conduct my experiments, because the soundproof booths provide participants with a virtually noise-free environment. This allows for maximum concentration and high quality speech recordings. Additionally, the lab has several laptops at its disposal that enable me to conduct technically demanding experiments with OpenSesame something that has proved challenging with other computers.
My research project comprises of a number of experiments in which I collect response times and record speech.* For both activities I use the the lab's soundproof cubicles, high quality head-mounted microphones, and computers running E-Prime. Consequently response times are less susceptible for disturbing variables such as distraction and noise. Sound recordings are of a much higher quality than when I would use for example table-top microphones in noisy office rooms. This means that I virtually never have to discard recordings because they are unintelligible. And about E-Prime: that is essential for my type of research.
* An example of one of the language production experiments: Westerbeek, H.G.W., Koolen, R.M.F. & Maes, A. (2013). 'Color typicality and content planning in definite reference.' In Proceedings of the CogSci workshop on the Production of Referring Expressions: Bridging the gap between cognitive and computational approaches to reference (PRE-CogSci 2013), 31 July 2013, Berlin, Germany.
I have used the lab and its equipment for different experiments. For one of my experiments (for details, please refer to: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563215301680) I used the lab's Eyecatchers. These are devices for videoconferencing that have a camera located behind the screen making eye contact possible during interaction, which is not possible for instance when using webcams. I used the Eyecatchers for get-acquainted experiments, where two strangers meet and get to know each other in a short conversation. I compared face-to-face to conversations via the Eyecatcher on a number of different measures. As using Eyecatchers provide one of the richest types of computer-mediated communication, they are very convenient for studies comparing computer-mediated communication to face-to-face communication.
The Media Design Lab was established in 2020 and is part of the Department of Communication & Cognition. It is located on the ground floor of the Dante building in rooms DZ11 and DZ12. The lab can be used during university working hours. To reserve lab facilities or equipment, please contact lab support (firstname.lastname@example.org). For a complete overview of the equipment and facilities, please check the right column (prefix MDL) in the reservation system.
Research systems and equipment
The measurement lab-facilities can be used for a wide range of individual and group experiments for researching user-experience, usability, and general media-effects. The soundproof one-person booth can be used to create a highly controlled environment for the measurement of psychophysiological markers using state of the art equipment, such as EEG (Emotiv Epoc) or fEMG (Nexus 10 MKII). Our living room lab is the perfect place for conducting studies in a naturalistic environment, with a one-way mirror enabling unobtrusive observation of participant behavior. Our group observation room can be used for anything from focus-group testing to controlled experiments. All three lab facilities are equipped with cameras and microphones that can be monitored from a central control room, while the intercom system enables remote control and communication.
The VR-lab offers a 4x4 meter area to conduct room-scale virtual reality experiments. High end PCs and wireless adapters are provided for a seamless virtual reality experience (HTC VIVE Pro 2). For more mobility and experiments outside of the lab facilities, we also provide powerful backpack PCs that enable limitless mobility during experiments (HP G2) as well as standalone virtual reality headsets (Meta Quest 2, HTC VIVE Focus 3). Even in virtual reality we can make use of psychophysiological measures using eye-tracking and facial expression tracking technology (HTC VIVE Facial Tracker).
For augmented reality research we offer the possibilities to scan real life environments and objects (Structure Sensor Pro) to create mixed reality research setups using mobile or head mounted augmented reality devices (HoloLens 2).
For user-experience and usability studies, we provide tablets, phones, laptops and mobile measurement equipment that can be reserved using the reservation system.
Next to the measurement lab is the creative space that provides researchers and students with all the tools and materials to plan, design and prototype new media projects. Two powerful workstations can be reserved to sketch, model and plan new prototypes (Adobe CC suite, Fusion 360 & Sketch provided). The 3D printer (Ultimaker S5) and lasercutter (Trotec Speedy 100) are bookable to make prototypes become a reality. From Lego-bricks to modelling clay, the creative space provides everything to create new ideas.
Also available to researchers is the use of our server with 96GB of RAM, two Intel Xeon Silver CPUs and a NVIDIA TESLA V 100. For more information about capabilities and specifications, please contact lab-support.
Please do not leave the rooms unattended and always lock the rooms when leaving. After you finish, make sure that all computers, monitors and equipment is turned off. Turn off all the lights and put the chairs and equipment back to where you found them. The 3D printer and lasercutter can not be used unattended.
Lab users are responsible for their own data. They are well-advised to make frequent copies of acquired data on their own backup media.
Hardware needs to remain in its original place. Staff and students are not allowed to (re)move equipment, disconnect cables, or install new hardware and software without explicit permission of the lab-management.
To make a reservation please send an email with your request to lab-support specifying the date, time and purpose of your experiment (email@example.com).
To check the availability of equipment and labs, please go to https://dcilab.uvt.nl/fris/.
Qualtrics accounts for TSHD staff and TSHD students
The Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences has come to an agreement with Qualtrics for a licence permitting all of its staff and students to create a Qualtrics account and hold it for as long as they are employed /registered as student at TSHD.
Find out how to create your own TSHD Qualtrics account (pdf-file).